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Old 08-13-2015, 08:14 AM   #26
ryback
Join Date: Jun 2011
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Quote:
John Powell wrote: View Post
Thoughts...

1. A paper on a wall does not an excellent, or even competent, instructor make.

2. However, if the paper on the wall was delivered to the individual instructor from a reputable group, certifying a certain level of proficiency at a level as described therein, then such a certificate does carry some weight with me as I know and understand that such things are not just handed out or Lord forbid, simply sold.

3. Rank may or may not mean anything as it compares/correlates to skil in teaching, and that is a discussion for a different day (or thread...) but rank and/or instructor certification, again from a reputable group who holds itself and its members to proficiency standards, does mean something (to me, at least). Meaning, if... say, Howard Popkin/Joe Brogna give a student a certain rank in the Daito-ryu they practice, I can be assured that, knowing Howard & joe personally, that student-person can do (because they actually had to do them in front of the said Howard/Joe to get the rank certificate) the things that rank represents.
There are always exceptions but most times the paper does not even reflect any sign of excellence even if it is handed by the most reputable and official organization, even Hombu dojo Aikikai... Sometimes it works the opposite way. The more official the recognition, the more misleading...
As for ranks being sold out... Come on! Let's face it and speak the truth! The candidate has to pay to have the testing and then he has to pay again in order to receive the rank... Why should he pay for recognition rightfully earned? And how many times can you "fail" an incompetent candidate who pays for his testing? Not many! In the end you "pass" him in order to also take the fee for his Dan or whatever! And if anybody claims that these things are not happening he is either lying or living in a dreamland!
I am not saying that ranks and recognition is bad, each one of us can make his choice. But we cannot advice anyone to choose the "correct" dojo according to such criteria because they mean nothing!
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Old 08-13-2015, 02:19 PM   #27
Garth Jones
Dojo: Allegheny Aikido
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Ranks being sold? Possibly, but it's not common in my experience.

1. In my organization the person doing the testing has no financial incentive. If I test one of my students for a rank, I don't get any of the rather modest testing fee. Nor do our senior instructors who test folks for black belt ranks get a portion of the test fees.

2. In aikido people are not failed often. That has much more to do with the fact that they are not allowed to test until their instructor feels they are ready than any financial considerations.

3. Some martial arts have many, many ranks and test all the time, which can generate substantial money. We have five or six ranks prior to black belt so testing is relatively infrequent.

That has been my experience over 27 years in the USAF and the ASU.
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Old 08-13-2015, 04:19 PM   #28
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Quote:
Yannis Mousoulis wrote: View Post
Why should he pay for recognition rightfully earned?
Why shouldn't he? If you want certification from a certain recognised and respected group that says that they guarantee that, according to them, you have a certain skill set and have achieved a certain level of that skill, should they not expect something in return? What is a few hundred dollars over the span of years it takes to achieve those skill levels? People spend far far more in other pursuits of skill than most people spend in martial arts just to get to shodan.

I personally spent $30k ,in 18 months, to acquire certifications in my equestrian skills as a rider and trainer, I could have just gone out and told people, I am self taught and have "X" number of years of experience riding and training horses and people do that. And most people who are looking for quality are willing to pay more for a trainer who has certifications from well known reputable training programs. They are also more willing to trust that the trainer will use methods that they are comfortable with and want used on their horses. If I wanted my horse to be trained for top reining competition I would not send her to a highly recognised trainer of classical dressage horses.

In my 6 years in aikido the fees I have been required by my teachers to pay in order to attain the rank of shodan have amounted to Approximately $5,210. That does not include seminars I have elected to attend which were not required in order to receive promotion.Compared to what it cost to gain a similar level of skill in the horse world this is a very small price to pay. Of that amount $4320 of it was for monthly(about $868 a year) dues which help to keep the rent paid. That leaves $890 that went to the ASU for affiliation dues and testing fees. I can't take riding lessons from a backyard, self trained hack for that price, let alone someone who has years of experience that practices at a high level and has recognition in the horse world as a quality instructor.

Knowing the background of the person you want to learn from can provide some idea of what might be expected as far as style of the art they teach as well as the philosophy of teaching they might have. If someone can't tell you where they came from how can you start to guess who they might be and whether they might be what you are looking for?

Six and a half years ago I decided to try aikido. As advised by a friend who is involved professionally in martial arts, I looked up all of the dojos in my area and contacted them asking questions about their teaching programs lineage and background. I didn't end up going to the dojo with the highest ranking instructor, I went to the one that answered my questions. Even though the answer was simply, "Just come."

It was not the rank, or the linage that made me chose to train there. It was the sincere and kind welcome and the quality of the instruction. The fact that the instructors could tell me where and how they developed their skills, from whom they learn, and seeing that they continue to work on their own growth and education were important factors. The fact that I quickly saw the passion that these people had for their art and the strong desire to be as effective in teaching that art as they could. The fact that those teachers are strongly motivated by the desire to be a credit to their own teachers. They don't teach aikido to make money or to be admired and called sensei. They teach aikido because they love the art and in order to continue to train and develop in the way that they want to go, they had to open a dojo.

So the dojo I chose just also happens to be affiliated with the ASU. Since the people I wish to train under have chosen this route I pay the dues and the testing fees associated with that membership. If they decided tomorrow to become independent or join some other affiliation I would still chose to train with my teachers. Because these are the people I wish to learn from and train with and share a significant and important part of my life with.

Six years down the road, and every day, for many reasons, I am more convinced that I could not have made a better choice.

Last edited by Shadowfax : 08-13-2015 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 08-14-2015, 01:52 AM   #29
ryback
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Why shouldn't he? If you want certification from a certain recognised and respected group that says that they guarantee that, according to them, you have a certain skill set and have achieved a certain level of that skill, should they not expect something in return? What is a few hundred dollars over the span of years it takes to achieve those skill levels? People spend far far more in other pursuits of skill than most people spend in martial arts just to get to shodan.

I personally spent $30k ,in 18 months, to acquire certifications in my equestrian skills as a rider and trainer, I could have just gone out and told people, I am self taught and have "X" number of years of experience riding and training horses and people do that. And most people who are looking for quality are willing to pay more for a trainer who has certifications from well known reputable training programs. They are also more willing to trust that the trainer will use methods that they are comfortable with and want used on their horses. If I wanted my horse to be trained for top reining competition I would not send her to a highly recognised trainer of classical dressage horses.

In my 6 years in aikido the fees I have been required by my teachers to pay in order to attain the rank of shodan have amounted to Approximately $5,210. That does not include seminars I have elected to attend which were not required in order to receive promotion.Compared to what it cost to gain a similar level of skill in the horse world this is a very small price to pay. Of that amount $4320 of it was for monthly(about $868 a year) dues which help to keep the rent paid. That leaves $890 that went to the ASU for affiliation dues and testing fees. I can't take riding lessons from a backyard, self trained hack for that price, let alone someone who has years of experience that practices at a high level and has recognition in the horse world as a quality instructor.

Knowing the background of the person you want to learn from can provide some idea of what might be expected as far as style of the art they teach as well as the philosophy of teaching they might have. If someone can't tell you where they came from how can you start to guess who they might be and whether they might be what you are looking for?

Six and a half years ago I decided to try aikido. As advised by a friend who is involved professionally in martial arts, I looked up all of the dojos in my area and contacted them asking questions about their teaching programs lineage and background. I didn't end up going to the dojo with the highest ranking instructor, I went to the one that answered my questions. Even though the answer was simply, "Just come."

It was not the rank, or the linage that made me chose to train there. It was the sincere and kind welcome and the quality of the instruction. The fact that the instructors could tell me where and how they developed their skills, from whom they learn, and seeing that they continue to work on their own growth and education were important factors. The fact that I quickly saw the passion that these people had for their art and the strong desire to be as effective in teaching that art as they could. The fact that those teachers are strongly motivated by the desire to be a credit to their own teachers. They don't teach aikido to make money or to be admired and called sensei. They teach aikido because they love the art and in order to continue to train and develop in the way that they want to go, they had to open a dojo.

So the dojo I chose just also happens to be affiliated with the ASU. Since the people I wish to train under have chosen this route I pay the dues and the testing fees associated with that membership. If they decided tomorrow to become independent or join some other affiliation I would still chose to train with my teachers. Because these are the people I wish to learn from and train with and share a significant and important part of my life with.

Six years down the road, and every day, for many reasons, I am more convinced that I could not have made a better choice.
First of all, if a recognition is actually rightfully earned, nobody should expect nothing in return. You expect something in return only if you have done somebody a special favour or in commercial give and take which is exactly my point. Many organizations
rare making thousands and thousands of dollars or euros by selling...thin air! They sell the ranks making clear profit out of this rotten system. Of course that does not apply to all organizations...
Now, what is a reputable organization? Even aikikai has a Doshu who ends up there every new generation by the legacy of the name Ueshiba. So, the head of the most reputable organization, that has many other organizations and so called systems and styles under its wing is not even the best! He us just the next link in the chain of the Ueshiba dynasty! And he is also beyond rank! Who the hell tested HIM and put him up his throne? Nobody! And he is giving demonstrations representing aikido and he is also giving his permission and his "official seal" for everybody else's promotion and
e is making a lot of money doing that! And there are real good aikido warriors out there, that have to pay their money for their promotion and recognition! Recognition by an organization whose head was put there because of his name! How more fake, how more lame can it get than that? For decades it has been so, cultivating a rotten system of ranks that reflect nothing, absolutely nothing!!
I will say it again because some people seem to miss the whole point. Compare two aikidoists, same rank and same organization and you will find out that sometimes they are on a completely different level technically. Back in 1988 Steven Seagal Sensei was 6th Dan and he was the best! There were 8th, 9th dans out there that wouldn't even come close to his technique. Now that his image and priorities are a bit changed, let's say not so close to aikido as they used to be, he is a 7th Dan! And although he is worse than he used to be, he is still the best among other people who are...higher ranking than him! How come?? So what does ranking reflect? What good will it be in a fighting situation? We need to concentrate on martial effectiveness and skill if we need something solid to compare the teachers...
As I said before, recognition is not a bad thing. My point is that we cannot choose the right dojo based on such criteria!
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Old 08-14-2015, 08:51 AM   #30
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Hi Yannis:

I respectfully ask how you know Steven Seagal is the best? And the best what?

And on another note it would easier to read your posts if you inserted a line here and there.

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Old 08-14-2015, 12:26 PM   #31
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Mr. Mousoulis,

In your earlier posts you generally complained about the subjectivity of ranking. And no, you didn't specifically use those words. In your last posting you then became rather subjective yourself in your comments about Doshu and Ueshiba Mitsuteru, his son and about Steven Seagal.

Your opinions about Doshu and Seagal are just that, your opinions. They certainly aren't based on any objective standard of review. Others may share your opinion (I am a Seagal aikido fan - his movies, not so much) and others may disagree.

By basing your argument on subjective opinion, you are watering down your position considerably. Something to think about.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 08-14-2015, 01:43 PM   #32
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

I have never heard that Steven Segal was ever considered "The best" by anyone other than those who chose to call him their teacher and some star struck moviegoers who have no reality based experience of what it is to be a martial artist. No doubt in that time others considered Yamada, Saito, Saotome and any number of other direct Students of O'sense "The Best".

Who decides who is the best anything? The Best horse on the track today might be the second best or even worst horse on the track tomorrow. No athlete ever stays on top for long. Why does it mater what one is the best of the best? What is right for you might not be what is right for me. So why are you fighting so hard to be right? What is the real point of your ranting? Why do you care how much money I spend and who I give it to if I am satisfied with the arrangement? Do you think I need your approval of the fact that the ASU through Doshu, through Saotome and through Wendy Whited sensei and through my own teachers have decided that I am currently a shodan level aikido practitioner? Do you think I care what some random guy on the internet thinks about my abilities? Do you think anyone else here really cares what you think? So... why should we care what you think?

Tell us... what do you think should be the criteria for choosing the right dojo for you? You are spending a lot of energy arguing loudly that we are all wrong. So...how about explaining how it is that you chose the dojo that you currently train in and the teacher you train under.

Or is the real problem that you can't find a teacher and a dojo that lives up to your unrealistic fantasies of having the world of aikido acclaim that you sir are just amazing, without your having to spend a dime to gain that recognition?

If the money is a problem for you, take up some other art where you feel you will get what you feel you paid for.
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Old 08-14-2015, 01:59 PM   #33
ryback
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
Mr. Mousoulis,

In your earlier posts you generally complained about the subjectivity of ranking. And no, you didn't specifically use those words. In your last posting you then became rather subjective yourself in your comments about Doshu and Ueshiba Mitsuteru, his son and about Steven Seagal.

Your opinions about Doshu and Seagal are just that, your opinions. They certainly aren't based on any objective standard of review. Others may share your opinion (I am a Seagal aikido fan - his movies, not so much) and others may disagree.

By basing your argument on subjective opinion, you are watering down your position considerably. Something to think about.
I agree about the watering down, I tried not to name names in previous posts and some people complained about that. So I named names now, so now it's a matter of subjective opinion. Well in my posts I write my opinion or my point of view and not everybody else's...

What Steven Seagal does is the most fast and effective and that's enough to make it the best for me...
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Old 08-14-2015, 02:03 PM   #34
ryback
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Hi Yannis:

I respectfully ask how you know Steven Seagal is the best? And the best what?

And on another note it would easier to read your posts if you inserted a line here and there.
In my point of view his way is (as I said earlier) what is the fastest and most effective in a fight... Yet I wouldn't personally follow him as a teacher but I would like to learn some aspects of the Tenshin dojo approach...
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Old 08-14-2015, 02:26 PM   #35
ryback
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

If there are here people who don't care about my opinion, it's fine. They can stop reading my posts and that's fair game. They can also go on reading them and disagree, that's fair game and welcome as well...
But please stop making assumptions based on your fantasy about me, my dojo, or my instructors because you have no idea what you are talkin about and you make yourselves ridiculous stating fiction as fact.
The only reason I post is because I want my opinion to be out there as everybody else's so that, anyone who want some advice will have as wide a range of opinions as possible in order to think, try, and decide for himself...
I am very happy with my dojo, I have never paid for any recognition, I had some of the best instructors but that is none of your business, not related to the thread, so please answer to my posts if you like but stop making assumptions about me because it is insulting. Don't try to explain my opinion by imposing a specific model on me. This is my opinion, I state it and you can like it or not like it, but you don't know who I am, so stop pretending you do because you are so far from the truth that you are making fools of yourselves...
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Old 08-14-2015, 02:51 PM   #36
Garth Jones
Dojo: Allegheny Aikido
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

"As soon as you concern yourself with the 'good' and 'bad' of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weakens and defeats you." - O'Sensei (Art of Peace, page 55)
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:20 PM   #37
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Mr. Mousoulis,

In your initial post you said that this wasn't the time and place to discuss how to choose the right Aikido Dojo. You also discussed how credentials and certifications can be misleading. Since then you have posted several times and only hinted at some of the things you might suggest would help a student choose a dojo. What are the criteria you would offer a person who told you he was interested in studying aikido and joining a dojo? What advice would you give?

For clarity's sake, my hypothetical student is an adult and has never studied a martial art before. In my mind, this is EXACTLY the time and place. You have strong opinions and have studied for twenty years. Please share your knowledge.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 08-14-2015, 08:07 PM   #38
Rooster
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Quote:
Yannis Mousoulis wrote: View Post
Even aikikai has a Doshu who ends up there every new generation by the legacy of the name Ueshiba. So, the head of the most reputable organization, that has many other organizations and so called systems and styles under its wing is not even the best! He us just the next link in the chain of the Ueshiba dynasty! And he is also beyond rank! Who the hell tested HIM and put him up his throne? Nobody! And he is giving demonstrations representing aikido and he is also giving his permission and his "official seal" for everybody else's promotion and
e is making a lot of money doing that!
You need to get your facts straight. Doshu does not make money from people being ranked, except insofar as the Aikikai Foundation pays his salary. And believe me, he earns his salary. He is the hardest-working man I have ever met, and a gentleman besides. And--as you would know if you had ever laid hands on him--his technique works.

I happen to be one of those "officially recognized and affiliated aikidoists with their tons of ranks and credentials...struggling with their same, lame, pathetic technique as they were always doing" that you described in your first post. I don't mind that a bit; I understand your criticism. But don't insult Doshu by name when you have never met him.
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Old 08-14-2015, 10:56 PM   #39
ryback
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
Mr. Mousoulis,

In your initial post you said that this wasn't the time and place to discuss how to choose the right Aikido Dojo. You also discussed how credentials and certifications can be misleading. Since then you have posted several times and only hinted at some of the things you might suggest would help a student choose a dojo. What are the criteria you would offer a person who told you he was interested in studying aikido and joining a dojo? What advice would you give?

For clarity's sake, my hypothetical student is an adult and has never studied a martial art before. In my mind, this is EXACTLY the time and place. You have strong opinions and have studied for twenty years. Please share your knowledge.
I never said it's not the time and place to discuss how to choose the right aikido dojo, I said it's not the time and place to discuss what the right aikido dojo is...
As I said before the beginner has no filter to judge anybody so there is no right or wrong dojo at this stage. You get into a dojo, you put your gi on and you start working and that's the right aikido dojo for any beginner, because it will "transport" him from the point of "not practicing" to the point of "practicing" and sometimes this initial move is the most important.
He must always keep his eyes and his mind open and after some time he will start having some experience, he will start building some filters in order to better judge the work that's been done from dojo to dojo and choose what is the one that suits him best. The level of skill of technique, the lack or use of weapons, and generally the whole philosophy and direction of each school must be the criteria, so it's not easy. One must study, experiment, watch, feel...but some papers on a wall or the promise that he will get his share of papers have nothing to do with that.
I've seen a lot of people I know having been...lost in space after following the dojo with the most credentials and hunting their...own credentials. Somewhere on their way for recognition they missed...the art.
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Old 08-14-2015, 11:02 PM   #40
ryback
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Re: Choosing the right Aikido Dojo.

Quote:
Roo Heins wrote: View Post
You need to get your facts straight. Doshu does not make money from people being ranked, except insofar as the Aikikai Foundation pays his salary. And believe me, he earns his salary. He is the hardest-working man I have ever met, and a gentleman besides. And--as you would know if you had ever laid hands on him--his technique works.

I happen to be one of those "officially recognized and affiliated aikidoists with their tons of ranks and credentials...struggling with their same, lame, pathetic technique as they were always doing" that you described in your first post. I don't mind that a bit; I understand your criticism. But don't insult Doshu by name when you have never met him.
I never insulted the doshu personally, I simply criticize the system of choosing the head of aikido by his last name in this never ending Ueshiba dynasty... Are you always the best if you have such a surname?
I don't doubt that his technique works, I wouldn't like a system that picks the doshu by this kind of legacy even if he was the best of the best...
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